NHS must reform to survive, says Starmer


The current model sees self-employed GPs run their own practices under contracts awarded by the NHS…reports Asian Lite News

Sir Keir has formally given backing to his shadow health secretary’s reforms to effectively nationalise GP services.

Wes Streeting’s proposals to make general practitioners salaried NHS employees have been criticised in some parts of the medical profession.

But Sir Keir said that “if we don’t get real about reform, the NHS will die”.

“Well-meaning reverence for the ideals [the NHS] represents and the care it can deliver has supplanted reality,” he wrote in the Telegraph. Sir Keir set out a series of reforms that a future Labour government would introduce.

They included getting rid of “bureaucratic nonsense” to allow patients to bypass GPs and self-refer themselves to specialists.

He also backed gradually “phasing in a new system” for GPs, turning family doctors into direct NHS employees.

The pledges have echoes of New Labour’s 1997 promises, when Sir Tony Blair swept into power on the back of a manifesto vowing to slash NHS waiting times and make the service more patient-focused.

The current model sees self-employed GPs run their own practices under contracts awarded by the NHS.

But Sir Keir said it was time to accept that the system needed overhauling, with the pressure on GP surgeries causing more people to resort to attending hospital instead.

Sir Keir suggested young doctors were not keen on taking on the “burdens and liabilities” of the current system as older GPs leave the workforce.

“As GPs retire and those contracts are handed back, I want to phase in a new system that sees GPs fairly rewarded within the NHS, working much more closely with other parts of the system,” he said. “Not everyone will want to hear this – but it is the direction we need to go in.”

Labour’s proposals come as the NHS faces added winter pressures, with nurses and ambulance workers staging walkouts during the busiest period. Services have been severely disrupted and army personnel called in to help out amid the chaos.

Last week, figures showed the proportion of patients seen within four hours in England’s A&Es fell to a record low of 65 per cent in December.

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